Presenting Percy is set to bypass the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle and instead contest next month’s Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
Pat Kelly’s stable star won the Galmoy Hurdle for the second time on what was his seasonal reappearance at Gowran Park 12 months ago, before being sent off favourite for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The nine-year-old finished a disappointing eighth at Prestbury Park, but has bounced back with two creditable efforts in defeat this term – finishing third in the John Durkan at Punchestown and fifth in Leopardstown’s Savills Chase over the Christmas period.
Connections considered bidding for a Galmoy Hurdle hat-trick on Thursday, but owner Philip Reynolds is keen for him to put Gold Cup claims to the test in the feature event on the second day of the Dublin Racing Festival.
He said: “I don’t think we ever ruled out Leopardstown. We just said that if the ground was going to be the same as it was at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival, we’d probably run in Gowran.
“They are due to start watering in Leopardstown this week, and the long-range weather forecast suggests they’ll get 12 millimetres of rain between now and the meeting. That, combined with the watering and the rain they’ve already had, should mean the ground is safe.
“It would have been nice to bid for a third Galmoy Hurdle. But he’s a chaser now, and that’s hopefully what he’ll be doing at Cheltenham.”
Presenting Percy was beaten just four lengths in the Savills Chase, but Reynolds admits his pride and joy performed below his expectations.
“I was disappointed at Christmas,” he said.
“He wasn’t beaten far, but he was never really in the race until the second-last.
“I think he’s better than that and I hope he proves it in the Irish Gold Cup.
“It looks like a very good race. There was only four lengths covering the first five in the Savills Chase – and apart from Monalee, it looks like they’ll all be running again.
“Then you’ve got last year’s winner (Bellshill), Henry de Bromhead’s horse who ran away with the Troytown (Chris’s Dream), and Sizing John is coming back – if they all run it will be a great race.
“We’ll be there, rightly or wrongly, and at least we should know where we stand afterwards.”